Meet our students: Jack Lawson

18 January 2012

Jack Lawson took an unconventional path through university.
Jack Lawson took an unconventional path through university.

It might seem like a leap to begin your university career in French and philosophy and then switch to medicine, but it is a progression that made sense for Jack Lawson.

While his friends had their future careers mapped out, Jack wasn't really sure what he wanted to do when he finished school.

"Medicine was always on the radar, but I wasn't ready to commit to it when I left school and I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do," he says.

So instead of pursuing a highly focused medical degree, Jack enrolled in a combined Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts, which allowed him to explore his interests and decide what his next steps might be.

"I majored in philosophy and psychology, because they were broad, interesting subjects that I thought would help me decide what I really wanted to do. I also kept up with my French studies, which I really enjoyed at school. The course let me do pretty much whatever I was interested in, so it was great to have that freedom."

Four years later, upon finishing his degree, Jack decided that he did want to pursue a career in medicine after all.

"I decided medicine was a passion and something that I would be good at. The way it combines the scientific side of diagnosis and problem solving with the personal elements of interacting with patients was really appealing to me," he says.

After completing his GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test), Jack applied to medicine directly through the University of Sydney. The admissions process took into account his GAMSAT result and his university marks, as well as interviews throughout the selection process.

Far from regretting his first choice at university, Jack is glad to have the experience of his first degree under his belt.

"My first degree made me sure that medicine was what I wanted to do, and I won't be half hearted now," he says.

"Philosophy and the analytical side of the humanities subjects have given me the ability to think in different ways. I think this is a huge asset for a doctor, who needs to be skilled in far more than just chemistry and physics."

Jack's sentiment is echoed by Professor Derrick Armstrong, the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), who says that far from being hampered, many students benefit from starting off with one degree and graduating with another:

"It's important to remember that there's more than one way to get to where you want to go. If you can't get in to your first choice of degree, or, like Jack, your interests change, there are plenty of ways to pursue what you want to do," Professor Armstrong says.

"If you don't get into your first choice, you can enrol in another degree at the University and get credit for the subjects you've done when you transfer across, as long as they are related and your results are strong. The University is really flexible on this."

Jack has also enjoyed his time as an undergraduate at uni. He lived on campus at St Andrew's College, and has represented the university in AFL and cricket.

He also earned a place in the University's Elite Athlete Program, which offers financial and academic support for students whose elite sporting commitments have a significant effect on their studies.

In his final year of Arts/Science, Jack travelled to the University of Bergen in Norway as part of the student exchange program.

"It was bloody cold and wet, but I really enjoyed it," he says. "I got on really well with the people. It was awesome; I did some travelling and gained my independence, which I think was really good for me."

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